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Press release: PM meetings in Berlin: 18 November 2016


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A Downing Street spokesperson said:

This morning, the Prime Minister met with Chancellor Merkel, President Obama, President Hollande, Prime Minister Renzi and Prime Minister Rajoy for talks on the most pressing global challenges we face.

The discussion began with the situation in Syria. They condemned the current offensive on Aleppo, Idlib, Homs and other places by the Syrian regime and its supporters and stressed the importance of humanitarian access. They agreed to keep up the pressure on Russia, including the option of further sanctions against those who are responsible for breaching international humanitarian law and reiterated the need for a political solution to the conflict.

On Daesh, leaders welcomed the coalition’s continued progress in Iraq and Syria, noting the efforts of the Iraqi security forces to liberate Mosul and the need to ensure stability once this has been achieved.

They also discussed Libya, emphasising their support for the strengthening of the Government of National Accord. They agreed on the importance of working with Libyan partners to tackle the threats from Daesh and from the criminal smuggling networks.

The Prime Minister led the discussion on migration, setting out the need for a new global approach to respond to the mass movement of people that is taking place. There was consensus on the need to do more to tackle the root causes of migration and to galvanise the international response, including through the Italian Presidency of the G7 and German G20 Presidency next year.

Finally, on Ukraine, leaders agreed that sanctions should remain in place until the Minsk agreement is implemented in full.

This afternoon, the Prime Minister and Chancellor Merkel held bilateral talks for over an hour. They agreed that we should seek ways to strengthen the links between the people of the UK and Germany, both while we remain in the EU and once the UK has left.

Following on from the morning meeting, they agreed on the enduring importance of the transatlantic relationship and looked forward to their future co-operation with President-elect Donald Trump on the range of global challenges.

They discussed further the need to support effective governance in Libya to enable greater co-operation to reduce the flow of migrants through Libya and across the central Mediterranean. They also agreed on the importance of stepping up efforts with partner countries, particularly in Africa, to address the root causes of migration.

On Brexit, the Prime Minister updated Chancellor Merkel on the UK’s preparations and reiterated that we will trigger Article 50 by the end of March.

Read the Prime Minister’s and Chancellor Merkel’s statements.

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The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) identified innovation – generating ideas and putting them into practice to overcome challenges and exploit opportunities – as a vital element in developing the UK’s economic strength, productivity and competitiveness. Innovation and our exploitation of science and technology are vital to our national security. They underpin the equipment, capabilities and skills that give us an advantage.

Now in its fourteenth year, the Minister for Defence Procurement Acquisition Awards recognises teams for their exceptional performance, innovation, effort and commitment. Minister Harriett Baldwin presented the Awards at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall on Tuesday 15 November. Eight teams were rewarded for their outstanding achievements and the ‘Innovation of the year’ award was presented for the first time.

Congratulating the teams Defence Minister Harriet Baldwin said:

It’s a pleasure to be here today to reflect on the success stories of Defence Procurement and Support. It’s always a privilege to meet those who work day in, day out to ensure our Armed Forces get the world-class kit they deserve, when they need it.
Saving Money

This year’s Special Award was presented to a Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) team who transformed the way the Department operates, identifying a £27.8billion (31%) reduction in the overall Defence inventory, and a £2.5 billion (50%) reduction in raw materials and consumables. These efficiencies will be re-invested to support the MOD’s £178 billion Equipment Program.

Chief of Materiel (Land) DE&S General Paul Jaques said:

Over the course of three years the team has achieved a fundamental reduction in the size of the inventory, improving practices within DE&S resulting in £2.5 billion worth of savings to taxpayers.

This award recognises this significant achievement and the efforts of all those involved. I am incredibly proud of them.
Saving Lives

This year the brand new ‘Innovation of the Year’ Award was won by the 1710 Naval Air Squadron Corrosion Control & Husbandry Section for their work on Ebola decontamination and contribution to the global understanding of biological security.

The team questioned the recommended Ebola Virus Decontamination measures for aircraft, commissioning testing of a number of disinfectants at Dstl Porton Down. The tests identified that all but the most damaging disinfectant were inadequate at destroying the virus and proved significant risks to the aircraft structure, but that the commonly used aircraft cleaning solution was the most effective at destroying the virus while carrying no risk to the aircraft.

Among the other teams recognised were a group who delivered critical Military Satellite Communications research. The teams’ achievement will allow UK MOD to have spaced based communications capability for around 15 years without the constant need for physical upgrades. Defence Science and Technology Lab (Dstl).

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A Downing Street spokesperson said:

The Prime Minister welcomed Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium to Downing Street this morning for bilateral talks.

The Prime Minister updated Prime Minister Michel on the process for the UK leaving the EU and reiterated that she intends to trigger Article 50 by the end of March next year. She confirmed that while we are leaving the EU we are not leaving Europe and want to maintain strong relationships with all member states as well as with the EU itself.

The leaders discussed the recent US election and the Prime Minister emphasised that a strong transatlantic relationship remains the foundation of global security and prosperity. They also discussed Russia and the importance of finding a solution to the conflict in Syria.

On counter-terrorism, they agreed that police and the security services should continue to work closely together to ensure the safety of both UK and Belgian nationals. They stated that this was a good example of the strong connection between our 2 countries.

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The announcement was made at a Defence Growth Partnership Ministerial meeting which was attended by a number of key defence suppliers.

The meeting was co-chaired by Jesse Norman, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Allan Cook Chairman of Atkins. This work is being led by the MOD but is closely aligned with the work on the National Industrial Strategy which BEIS are leading.

As part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 (SDSR15), the Government committed to develop a refreshed defence industrial policy. This will make clear that competition remains our preferred approach, delivering value for money and incentivising an innovative and productive industrial base. It will outline the further action we will take to help the UK’s defence and security industries, in particular Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), to grow and compete successfully. The development of this policy is an important contribution to the new National Security Objective to promote our prosperity and is closely linked with other work in the MOD to promote innovation, exports and skills.

Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin said:

I am delighted to be able to formally launch the consultation on refreshing Defence Industrial Policy Refresh. This is a milestone in meeting our SDSR15 commitment and presents a unique opportunity for our defence industry, academics and non-traditional defence suppliers to make a valuable contribution to the continuing development of our Industrial Policy.

I therefore call upon all our stakeholders, particularly SMEs, to engage in the consultation over the next 6 weeks to help us to refine our policy to not only deliver the best equipment for defence at the best value for the tax payer, but to support an innovative, prosperous and internationally competitive defence industry.

Allan Cook, Industry co-chair of the DGP said:

As co-chair of the Defence Growth Partnership - which seeks to develop the UK defence capabilities and increase defence export sales - I welcome today’s launch of the industry consultation on the refresh of defence industrial policy. I would encourage industry of all sizes, non-traditional suppliers and academia to participate in the consultation.

The refresh is an opportunity to help to deliver a vibrant, competitive and successful defence sector in the UK, contributing to the needs of our Armed Forces, allies and partners around the world as well as making a significant contribution to the UK’s prosperity.

The MOD is keen to use this opportunity to reach out to all the members of our defence industry, from large defence suppliers to the smallest SME, and are interested to hear the views of non-traditional suppliers.

Our goal is to make it easier for businesses to work with defence and make defence business more attractive to a wider range of suppliers, which is why this external consultation is so important.

The consultation will run from 22nd November 2016 to January 6th 2017 and can be accessed here

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At a working dinner at Lancaster House with the Secretary General this evening Sir Michael praised the NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence commitment in the Baltic States in the face of an increasingly assertive and unpredictable Russia.

They also agreed to build on the commitments made at the Warsaw and Wales Summits: countering hybrid threats, supporting greater maritime co-operation and boasting our cyber security.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

Britain is stepping up to deal with the threats we face. The Army and RAF are providing assurance to NATO allies; with troops going to Estonia and Poland and jets being deployed to the Black Sea. Our Royal Navy is taking on people traffickers and training new Libyan forces in the Mediterranean. The UK is ahead of the NATO spending target and we’re ensuring the Royal Navy is growing with cutting-edge new aircraft carriers, frigates and submarines launching over the next few years.

At the NATO Defence Ministerial in Brussels last month the Sir Michael said that the UK will commit RAF Typhoon aircraft to Romania as part of the NATO Southern Air Policing mission to offer reassurance to Black Sea allies.

He confirmed that the UK will send 800 personnel to Estonia as one of four framework battalions to NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence, to which France and Denmark will contribute further troops.

Last week at the Foreign Affairs Council (Defence), the Defence Secretary called on European partners to do more and increase their defence spending to the NATO 2% commitment, meaning they are better positioned to tackle the new and emerging threats to European security.

Backed by a £178 billion equipment plan and defence budget rising in real terms for the rest of this parliament, the UK is one of the five of the 28 countries in NATO that meets the 2% spending target.

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A Downing Street spokesperson said:

The Prime Minister hosted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at Downing Street this afternoon for a wide-ranging discussion on security issues.

The Prime Minister reaffirmed the UK’s unwavering support for NATO and said we will remain a cornerstone of the Alliance. Secretary General Stoltenberg agreed that the UK is playing a leading role by meeting our commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence, contributing troops to deterrence measures in Eastern Europe and maintaining our independent nuclear deterrent.

The Prime Minister and Secretary General Stoltenberg spoke about the importance of NATO members meeting the 2% commitment and agreed to continue to encourage allies to increase defence spending.

They discussed the recent US election and the importance of the transatlantic bond to security. Secretary General Stoltenberg relayed his recent conversation with President-elect Trump, in which they had agreed on the enduring importance of NATO.

The Prime Minister and Secretary General Stoltenberg agreed that any EU defence proposals should be about strengthening structures within NATO rather than duplicating existing structures.

Finally they discussed the importance of adapting to emerging threats and the way in which the UK could contribute to increasing cyber capabilities among NATO allies.

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LIBOR funds will provide a £20 million boost to fundraising for the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC), in addition to financing four projects endorsed by the Ministry of Defence.

MOD endorsed projects

Iraq-Afghanistan Memorial

A £500,000 grant will fund the unveiling of a memorial marking the contribution made by the people of Britain, both military and civilian, who served in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 25 years.

This service will provide a national moment to unveil the memorial which will recognise, praise and remember the brave service of all those who were engaged in these countries. The memorial, which will be installed in Victoria Embankment Gardens in London, is set to be unveiled in the spring.

RAF 100

The Royal Air Force Centenary is on 1st April 2018 and will commemorate the achievements of the RAF and all those who have served. This is a chance to celebrate the rich history of the RAF, from the battle-winning performances high above the skies of Britain in the nation’s greatest hour of need, to more recent activities such as tackling Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

£2,432,000 has been allocated to address both the history and the future of the RAF. Some of the funds will help veterans and families attend commemorative events due to take place in London in July 2018, whilst a large proportion will go on youth engagement programmes, encouraging children to choose science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related-subjects at school and to consider careers in aerospace.

Invictus Games

An award of £150,000 will contribute towards sending a UK delegation to Toronto, Canada in September to take part in next year’s Invictus Games. In line with previous arrangements, the delegation is being organised by a partnership of the MOD and charitable partners Help for Heroes and The Royal British Legion.

The Games are a high profile, international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick serving and veteran military personnel, created by Prince Harry while he was serving in the British Army.

Service families

Over £450,000 has been allocated to support families of the Armed Forces. A significant portion of this is going to the Families Federations, who will help families by supporting them with information on deployment and relationships, and raising awareness of the range of help which is available to them. They will also use the funds to commission research into important issues which may affect families in the Forces, such as how the Covenant is supporting Army families overseas.

A share of the funding will also go towards specialist organisations working with the service welfare arm of the MOD. This will be used to continue the good work being done to ensure domestic abuse crimes remain low within service families and supporting those who are unfortunately affected.

Other funding

You can read the full list of projects funded by LIBOR here.

Included is £20 million towards the construction of the defence element of the brand new Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) at Stanford Hall. The centre, a purpose-built, world-leading clinical rehabilitation site to offer medical services for injured members of the Forces, is set to become operational in 2018.

Welcoming the announcement Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said:

Last week I saw the remarkable progress on the DNRC building work first hand. Today’s £20 million LIBOR grant will propel us further towards a truly world-class healthcare facility, and is a further commitment from this government to support our Armed Forces as well as wider society.

Read more about Defence Minister Mark Lancaster’s visit to the DNRC last week here.

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In her first visit to the base, which is one of Scotland’s largest employment sites, Mrs Baldwin met with personnel from the Royal Navy’s submarine flotilla as well as the many employees and contractors who support the base.

Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said:

Scotland has long been central to the success of our Armed Forces and the investment we are making at Faslane is crucial to maintaining that and will make a huge contribution to the local economy, bringing vital job security to our people and their families.

As one of the primary hubs for the Armed Forces in Scotland, HMNB Clyde is currently benefitting from over £500 million of investment which is being spent on the ship lift, sea walls, jetties and other major projects to ensure Faslane continues as a world leading naval base.

The Minister was given a tour of one of the Vanguard class submarines which carry the UK’s ballistic nuclear missile system – the ultimate guarantee of our nation’s safety. She also saw the waterfront engineering support facilities including the giant ship lift, used to lift the 16,000 tonne submarines out of the water when maintenance work is needed.

In October Defence Secretary Michael Fallon started work on Vanguard’s successor the £1.3 billion Dreadnought programme when he carried out the first ‘steel cut’.

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New proposals will make it a crime for anyone to pose as a military veteran by wearing medals, awarded by the nation, that they have not earned themselves.

The ‘Awards for Valour (Protection)’ Bill was supported by the Government at Second Reading in the House of Commons today.

With Government support, the Bill should become law and those flouting the rules, widely known as ‘Walter Mittys’, could face up to 3 months in prison or an unlimited fine.

Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin, who responded to the Bill in the Commons today on behalf of the Government said:

Wearing unauthorised medals is harmful because it undermines the integrity of our formal military honours system – a historic system that has honoured the bravery and dedication of our world-class Armed Forces since the 19th century.

The Bill tabled by MP Gareth Johnson and supported by the Government is also backed by the House of Commons Defence Committee and an e-petition signed by 11,000 members of the public.

The Bill rightly protects family members wearing relative’s medals as a sign of respect and theatrical, TV or film productions.

Following the Bill passing Second Reading today, it will now move to the Committee Stage where it will be gone through in detail and any necessary amendments made.

It is already an offence under the Fraud Act of 2006 for someone to wear a medal they are not entitled to, but only if it is for financial gain. This offence carries a sentence of up to 10 years’ imprisonment. This Bill seeks to tackle those who are not covered by this provision.

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The Defence Secretary was speaking during a tour of the new facilities being built to support the first of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, which include power facilities, a reinforced jetty, and an area equivalent to over 200 football pitches dredged in the harbour so far.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

Britain’s new aircraft carriers are the biggest and most powerful warships ever built for our Royal Navy. The over £100 million being invested in Portsmouth Naval Base will ensure that it is a fitting and state-of-the-art home for our new warships from spring next year.

The Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales will lead our powerful and growing Royal Navy and reflect that, in a dangerous world, Britain is stepping up.

The Defence Secretary also opened Portsmouth’s brand new Ark Royal facility and met the personnel responsible for clearing historic ordnance uncovered by dredging work. The Ark Royal Facility will provide the ships company with top of the range facilities before they embark onto the ship for training and operations.

In order to prepare the harbour and dockyard infrastructure for the 65,000 tonne carriers, 276 metres of jetty have been reinforced with over 3,300 tonnes of new steel work. New navigation lights have been installed in the harbour and Solent, with huge new fenders and gangways delivered to accommodate the giant ships.

Commander of HMNB Portsmouth, Commodore Jeremy Rigby said:

With the opening of Ark Royal building today, we have reached another important milestone in the preparations to get Portsmouth Naval Base ready for HMS Queen Elizabeth. I was delighted to be able to show the Defence Secretary how the last pieces of the complex jigsaw of getting the Naval Base ready for the new era, are falling into place.

HMS Queen Elizabeth, the QEC First of Class, is now well into her commissioning phase. It is expected that she will leave Rosyth for Sea Trials in early 2017 and arrive at her new home in Portsmouth in late spring 2017. These infrastructure works form a major nautical-milestone on her journey to becoming an operational warship, ready for duty: a journey that will see her deploy in every ocean around the world over the next five decades.

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During a visit to the South American nation, Mr Penning underlined the importance of Chile as a key ally, and marked the longstanding relationship.

The UK has strong historical links with Chile, particularly through the Royal Navy and Chilean Navy.

While in the Chilean capital of Santiago, the minister met with Chilean Minister of Defense Juan Antonio Gomez to discuss mutual interests and challenges, and thank Chile for its continued support.

Minister of State for the Armed Forces Mike Penning said:

We share a close and longstanding Defence relationship with Chile, and will continue our strong commitment to this important regional ally.

There are historic ties between our two navies and we appreciate the support Chile has provided. We will continue to explore new ways for British and Chilean Armed Forces to work together, and alongside NATO.

The naval relationship between Britain and Chile has stood strong over many years. In 2008, a Chilean warship and two Chilean tug boats came to the aid of HMS Endurance after it suffered a flooding incident, providing support to the ship and her crew.

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the Elephant Island rescue, when explorer Ernest Shackleton’s British team were saved by a skilled and courageous rescue mission, led by Chilean Captain Luis Pardo. Various commemoration events have been held this year to mark the centenary. Maritime ties go back even further, as Lord Cochrane, a Royal Navy commander, helped develop the Chilean Navy in the early 1800s.

Today, the two navies work together seamlessly, using every opportunity to learn from each other.

The UK provides support to the Chilean Peace Support School in Santiago, which assists Chilean troops on peacekeeping missions in Haiti and Cyprus.

In addition to joint experience in the maritime theatre, the ministers were also able to discuss potential opportunities for future export opportunities, ensuring Chile remains an important trade partner for Britain.

During his visit Mr Penning also met Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgardo Riveros, and British Ambassador to Chile Fiona Clouder, and was able to meet personnel from the Chilean Army’s Cavalry Regiment.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet visited the UK in May, and more recently Defense Minister Gomez attended the UK-hosted UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in September.

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